H&M blames it on the weather as retailer reveals the weakest sales rise for two years

Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
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High street fashion giant H&M posted its weakest monthly sales rise in almost two years in August, blaming unseasonably warm weather in many of its core European markets.

The Swedish group, which has around 250 stores across Britain, said its sales edged up by 1 per cent last month, falling short of analysts’ forecasts of 6 per cent growth.

It was the poorest monthly sales growth figure that the group, which has 3,675 stores worldwide, has seen since March 2013 when sales shrank 4 per cent.

The firm, which is the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer after Zara owner Inditex, had posted double-digit growth over the previous ten months.

It said: “Sales in August were negatively affected by the unseasonably warm weather in many of the H&M group’s large markets in Europe.”

However, H&M said over the three months to August 31 group sales met forecasts jumping 18.6 per cent to 46.0 billion krona (£3.61bn), due to stronger sales in June and July, and a weak Swedish currency.

The trading update comes after UK figures showed high street stores endured their worst month of falling sales since the financial crisis as August proved a washout for retailers.

Sales fell 4.3 per cent compared to the same month a year ago, according to the latest figures from accountancy and business advisory firm BDO. It was the biggest fall since November 2008 and the fourth month in succession of decline.

It was the latest evidence of a tough period for retailers, with department store John Lewis reporting a difficult end to August.

The firm said sales for the week ending August 29 were down 3.4 per cent compared with last year, after falling 5.9 per cent in the prior week. They were 3 per cent lower in the four weeks to August 29.

There have been signs that UK consumers last month preferred to spend spare cash on late holiday getaways amid the miserable August weather.

Figures from easyJet showed it enjoyed a record month, carrying 7.1 million passengers, as Britons opted to escape the soggy conditions and take advantage of the strong pound.